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Planned Parenthood, Komen Rift Centers On Abortion

Two of the nation's most iconic women's health groups are engaged in a nasty fight that's raising a lot of eyebrows.

The breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen For the Cure is pulling about $700,000 in breast cancer screening and service grants from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

The money isn't massive by either group's bottom line: Komen raised more than $400 million in 2010; Planned Parenthood's total revenue that year was over $1 billion.

But it apparently marks a new chapter in the ongoing abortion war, not to mention the battle to defund Planned Parenthood.

Komen's reason, according to The Associated Press (the organization didn't return NPR's calls or emails), was a new policy forbidding grants to organizations under official investigation. President Cecile Richards confirmed that in an interview.

Planned Parenthood is the subject of an inquiry launched last fall by House Energy and Commerce Investigative Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns, R-Fla.

But members of Congress who back Planned Parenthood say that investigation is little more than the same allegations that have long been made — and not substantiated — against the group.

"This is a trumped-up investigation by some Republicans in the Congress who have a vendetta against Planned Parenthood," said Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California.

Planned Parenthood's Richards says she thinks the Komen Foundation has finally been pushed too far by pressure from anti-abortion groups. "I think what's really disturbing about seeing these right-wing attacks on groups like the Komen Foundation is we can't allow bullies to prevent women from getting the health care they need," she says.

But others say the pressure may have come from within the Komen organization itself. They point to the hiring last year of Karen Handel, a vice president who ran for governor in Georgia last year on a platform that included cutting state funds for Planned Parenthood.

Whatever the reason, it has outraged members of Congress like Colorado's Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat.

"I don't see two groups at war with each other," DeGette said. "I see the Komen Foundation declaring war on women's health. Planned Parenthood has done everything they've been asked to do. And with their own private money, with 3 percent of their services or less, they do abortions, which the last I heard were still legal in this country."

Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest doesn't have a contract with the Komen foundation. But Spokeswoman Jennifer Coburn said their supporters are concerned.

"Planned Parenthood has been flooded with emails and phone calls from supporters who want to know how they can help fill the gap. And they've expressed extreme disappointment with the Susan G. Komen Foundation."

Komen's California affiliates say they disagree with the foundation's move to cut off money for Planned Parenthood.

Anti-abortion groups, not surprisingly, are praising the Komen Foundation.

"The work of the Komen Foundation has lifesaving potential and should not be intertwined with an industry dealing in death," said Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life. Meanwhile, Steven Aden of the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal firm, said it "applauds Komen for seeing the contradiction between its lifesaving work and its relationship with an abortionist that has ended millions of lives."

But despite those plaudits, an even bigger question many are asking is, which of these huge and recognizable groups is likely to win this fight?

Deana Rohlinger, an associate professor at Florida State University who studies women's groups, thinks that while Planned Parenthood may lose this funding battle, it's likely to win the war.

Planned Parenthood is "an organization that has been around for a long time, and this isn't the first time it's seen a hit to its bottom line," she said. "It's gone without before, and I don't imagine that this is going to bring it down."

Komen, on the other hand, she says, has been seen, until now, as more about pink ribbons and T-shirts than politics.

Yet "by taking such a strong move, what they've done is made it more about abortion, potentially, than about women's health," she says. "And that could be problematic in terms of people that support the Komen Foundation. You're talking about a generally popular group, and some folks might reconsider participating."

Comments

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 2, 2012 at 10:28 a.m. ― 2 years, 6 months ago

Shame on Susan Komen for politicizing a public health issue.

I was disappointed when I heard about this, and the more I hear, the more disgusted I am to learn Ms. Komen has a long history of playing politics with her organization.

I Work in the health industry, and Komen's Race for the Cure is a big deal here in San Diego.

Many of my friends and colleagues both participate in the race and sponsor people in the race to raise money for breast cancer.

The overwhelming message I am hearing from my friends and colleagues is no more - they will no longer associate with this organization.

I have also seen this going viral on Facebook - people are posting their disgust with this divisive politically motivated pandering on the part of Komen.

Ms. Komen has without question self-destructed a formerly widely respected organization.

Planned Parenthood has become a scapegoat in the abortion debate.

It's only a tiny fraction of their services that actually provide abortions. They are full service medical facilities that give underprivileged girls breast screenings they normally could not afford and would not otherwise get.

The support from Komen went directly to PP's breast screening programs, and nothing else.

Now young women could not be getting the breast screenings they require due to this shameful action by Ms Komen.

PP never threatened Komen for associating with radical religious groups that hand out pink bibles promoting her organization to evangelicals because they realize women of all religions and political ideologies are at risk.

But the intolerant religious affiliates were not as tolerant and threatened Komen to sever ties with PP.

Simple prove that PP cares about the health of all women, whereas Komen and the radical evangelicals tied to her organization care far more about politics.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 2, 2012 at 10:35 a.m. ― 2 years, 6 months ago

One of my friends had a brilliant idea this afternoon.

She is taking the $50 she donates to the Susan Komen Foundation each year and is going to give it directly to Planned Parenthood instead.

I hope others do the same.

I'd also like to see a local race for breast cancer set up in Dan Diego where defectors from Komen can race and raise money to give directly to Planned Parenthood for their breast screening program .

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 2, 2012 at 10:37 a.m. ― 2 years, 6 months ago

Oops, my friend just pointed out it's still morning when she read my post - after a morning of fuming over Isaa and Komen, it feels like it should already be afternoon :)

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 2, 2012 at 5:47 p.m. ― 2 years, 6 months ago

Sorry, one error I want to point out. I referred to Ms. Komen above, but Ms Komen is actually the sister for whom the foundation was named. It's Komen's sister **Nancy G. Brinker** who runs the organization.

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Avatar for user 'Pondering1'

Pondering1 | February 3, 2012 at 9:14 a.m. ― 2 years, 5 months ago

Unfortunately, Planned Parenthood does alot more than breast cancer screenings. If you don't care how your donations are used, donate to Planned Parenthood. If you really care about breast cancer screenings, there are plenty of organizations that focus on this noteworthy cause. Don't think about this issue emotionally. Take a logical perspective.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | February 3, 2012 at 10:16 a.m. ― 2 years, 5 months ago


Are we really upset that one charity is withdrawing funding from another charity and (presumably) refocusing it on another of their programs?

Get a grip, this is donated money.

If you want your donations going to something specific, there is going to be a charity interested in helping you spend it.

Neither of the charities involved is described as reducing service due to shortfalls. Seems to be a lot of smoke and no fire here.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 3, 2012 at 11:16 a.m. ― 2 years, 5 months ago

Benz, it's not the issue of one charity choosing not to give to another, it's the broader issue that women's health has to be politicized.

I can't think of any other organization that is as large, geographically spread out, and serves as many people, in particular people who have no other options, as PP.

The bottom line is that Komen and PP are not just any charities, they are two of the largest and most influential organizations in our country when it comes to breast health. Women's health benefits from these two working together. Just as with federal donations, PP agreed Komen's donations would go entirely to their breast health programs and nothing else (with federal donations PP has agreed not to use any govt money for abortions in accordance with the law). Audits have repeatedly shown PP honors these agreements, and money used for abortions comes only from private donations given directly to PP.

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Avatar for user 'mccolgan55'

mccolgan55 | February 3, 2012 at 12:25 p.m. ― 2 years, 5 months ago

SGK is SUPPOSED to be supporting breast cancer awareness, treatment, and research. PP OVERWHELMING supports underage abortions. SGK should NOT be giving any money to PP. There are other ways to support mammograms for those who cannot afford it. I am so disappointed in SGK for succumbing to PPs strong-arm tactics.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 3, 2012 at 1:58 p.m. ― 2 years, 5 months ago

Mccolgan55,

You claim there are plenty of other places for women with no men's to get breast exams. Please name them.

PP is a national organization that reaches many women who would otherwise not get these exams. You claim there are alternatives, please state what they are.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 3, 2012 at 3:30 p.m. ― 2 years, 5 months ago

*no *means*, not no *men's*

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | February 3, 2012 at 3:59 p.m. ― 2 years, 5 months ago

I'm using a different perspective.
If a charity is spending money on something you don't like, feel free to donate elsewhere. If you want to redirect Race for the Cure distributions go work for them until they put you in charge.
I think PP is great, I think there are far too many unwanted babies as it is. I also think that those who are freaked out by PP should be looking for someplace else to direct their excess cash, to a charity that makes them happy.
Yes, cancer research is important. Yes, people are overly sensitive about abortion. But no, charity donations shouldn't be regulated. They are free to direct their donated resources where they see fit within their charters.
People are still getting services regardless of the moral outrage (again) surrounding this issue.
Nothing to see here... moving along.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | February 3, 2012 at 9:23 p.m. ― 2 years, 5 months ago

Oh, Duck, "politics" is PP's middle name. Come on, be honest.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 4, 2012 at 10:46 a.m. ― 2 years, 5 months ago

Benz, I do see your point even though I don't necessarily agree just becaus I can't think of anyone as large who reaches as many women as PP. I do appreciate that you see PP as providing important services to people and definitely agree with that.

Mission, PP is political because of other people, not because of PP themselves. PP serves anyone regardless of their political ideologies. It's not PP's actions that have politicized their organization, it's the radical anti-choice groups and anti-choice politicians who have chosen to take this reorganization and make them the scapegoat for the abortion debate.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | February 6, 2012 at 7:57 a.m. ― 2 years, 5 months ago

Look at the origins.

Back in the early 90s, I used to work at a bookstore where I customer commented on the then revised issue of OUR BODIES, OURSELVES. The comment was from a customer had who read it the new edition and remarked that it was "less shrill" than the earlier, New Left-inspired first edition. I think that spoke volumes.

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